May 16, 2019

Lawrence O'Donnell welcomed terrorism expert Richard Clarke to talk about the Russian attacks on our voting systems.

"The Mueller report volume 1, page 51. 'In August, 2016, 16 Russian officers targeted employees of a voting technology company that developed software used by numerous U.S. counties to manage voter rolls and installed malware on the company network.' Yesterday, Florida's governor said that the FBI has told him of two Florida counties where Russian hackers have tapped into their voter file. Back with us is Richard Clarke, counter-terrorism expert. Richard Clarke, your reaction to both of those things. First, that notation in the Mueller report and then possibly its linkage to what we're learning in Florida," he said.

"Well, they are linked. And the remarkable thing about that event yesterday was the governor of Florida is saying he had been forced by the FBI to sign the secrecy oath before they would tell him anything. And they told him he couldn't tell the two counties involved, the citizens of those counties, or the public, what counties had been hacked. That's just ridiculous. The Russians know what they did. There's no reason why the American people can't know," Clarke said.

"But the larger issue here, Lawrence, is there are 4,000 counties in the United States. And they are not equipped to protect themselves against nation-state attacks from Russian GRU hackers. My day job is cyber security and I know major corporations can't figure out when they've been hacked, despite a lot of investment. For these counties to say we know we weren't hacked? They don't know. The FBI doesn't know. It's likely that the Russian hacking was far more extensive than we're aware of. If the Russians wanted to hide their tracks, they're pretty good at doing that."

"The president has issued no orders within the administration to augment our defenses against a Russian attack in 2020. How much do you expect the bureaucracies within the administration are doing that anyway, even without a specific presidential directive, and what do you expect in 2020?" O'Donnell asked.

"I expect the Russians to be more sophisticated next time because we're on to them. The bureaucracy is doing what it can, but my experience with running bureaucracy is that unless the White House is directing it, coordinating it, bringing it all together, the real power of the U.S. government doesn't get played out. DHS is doing what it can, FBI, NSA, but it needs White House leadership. I know Senator Wyden is about to introduce legislation, the Federal Cybersecurity Election Act, will give more authority and direction but it unlikely to get passed. We may very well go into the next election without a adequate defense against what will be a more sophisticated Russian program," he responded.

"And if the Russians really are going after voting machines or voter rolls, they would presumably be using the electoral college map to do that. They wouldn't waste their time on anything in New York or California or Alabama, for example, or Utah where those are very heavily either Democrat or Republican states, they couldn't affect the outcome. They would no doubt go into those states that swung it for the president, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, places like that?

"Not only that, Lawrence. They will go into the swing counties and the swing precincts and they know where they are. I wouldn't be surprised when we finally do learn which counties were hacked, if one of them wasn't Broward county."

Notice what wasn't said -- namely, that the reason we're not doing anything about it is that the Great Cheeto absolutely refuses to entertain the likelihood that Putin put him on the throne. No, it wasn't just "Facebook ads." But we mustn't make the baby throw another tantrum.

And they didn't talk about how Paul Manafort shared polling data with a Ukrainian closely tied to Russian intelligence -- precinct level polling, maybe?

The story is right there, if you bother to look.

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